Two-way exchange

Elizabeth Cooney, June 20th, 2012
  • The Slim Initiative in Genomic Medicine brings together experts
    from the Broad Institute and from INMEGEN in Mexico.
    Len Rubenstein photo

The Slim Initiative for Genomic Medicine is a two-way street, with researchers and information moving in both directions as part of an international collaboration between the Broad Institute and the National Institute of Genomic Medicine in Mexico City, known by its Spanish acronym INMEGEN.

Scientists working together through the Slim Initiative have already reported advances in understanding the genomic landscape of head and neck cancer. Now, after one of the largest breast cancer sequencing efforts to date, a team from the Broad, INMEGEN, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered surprising alterations in genes that were not previously associated with breast cancer. They report their results in the June 21 issue of Nature.

“The Slim Institute has made things happen,” said Alfredo Hidalgo Miranda, a co-senior author of the paper and head of the cancer genomics laboratory at INMEGEN.

Cancer is one focus of the Slim Initiative, but not the only one.

“The Slim Initiative in Genomic Medicine aims to support the discovery of the genetic basis of diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and several types of cancer which have a profound public health impact in Mexico and Latin America,” said Roberto Tapia-Conyer, director general of the Carlos Slim Health Institute. “This novel bi-national scientific collaboration is contributing to put the Latin American genome on the map of the second generation worldwide genome studies.”

Part of the Carlos Slim Health Institute, the Slim Initiative is funded by the 25-year-old Carlos Slim Foundation, whose public health programs initially focused on improving maternal and child health through nutrition and immunizations, especially in rural areas of Mexico. In 2010 the health institute expanded its vision to include basic biomedical science in the form of genomics, forging a three-year, $65 million agreement with the Broad Institute.

Read about Carlos Slim and the Slim Initiative in the Broad Institute 2011 Annual Report. Go here and click on 2011 Annual Report. The stories start on page 24.